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Implementation of Podcasts through Computer-Assisted Task-Based Language Teaching in an Intermediate Spanish Course

Abstract

Extensive literature demonstrates that podcasts can support the process of learning a second language (Goodwin-Jones 2005; McBride, 2009; Phillips, 2017; Stanley, 2006). However, a small number of studies were found in the literature review investigating the implementation of podcasts through computer-assisted task-based language teaching (TBLT) to foster listening comprehension (Mulyadi et al., 2021; O’Bryan & Hegelheimer, 2007).

The present dissertation, firstly, illustrates how computer-assisted TBLT listening lessons can be designed and implemented in an online intermediate Spanish course, and, secondly, investigates the development of students’ listening performance using computer-assisted TBLT lessons, the impact of this type of instruction on students’ metacognitive awareness in listening strategies, as well as their opinions towards podcast tasks. In order to analyze these components, second language learners of Spanish who were enrolled in an online intermediate Spanish course at the University of California, Santa Barbara, participated in this study over the course of one quarter. The technologies used in this study are synchronous Zoom classes and an online module containing six podcast tasks, questionnaires, and open-ended questions.

A total of 51 second language learners of Spanish participated in this study. For the analysis of the development of listening performance, participants completed six computer-assisted TBLT listening lessons. In order to investigate the impact of the listening lessons on participants’ metacognitive awareness in listening comprehension, they completed the Metacognitive Awareness Listening Questionnaire (MALQ) at three different points during the ten-week quarter (Vandergrift et al., 2006). Finally, participants answered open-ended questions in which they self-reflected on the podcasts, their listening process, and listening strategies immediately after each listening lesson.

The results of the study found that participants’ listening comprehension significantly improved at the beginning of the experiment, whereas there was no statistically significant growth at the end of the experiment. Additionally, the results of the MALQ provided empirical evidence for the benefits of the computer-assisted TBLT lessons to raise participants’ metacognitive awareness in listening. Participants demonstrated statistically significant growth in four of the five MALQ categories. The results indicated that this type of listening instruction can be useful for the development of the planning and evaluation, directed attention, person knowledge, and problem-solving categories. Instead, the results of this investigation suggested that there was no statistically significant difference between pretest and posttest responses for the mental translation category. Finally, the written comments section showcased that the majority of participants enjoyed the TBLT listening lessons presented in this study and expressed their desire to continue listening to podcasts in the future. Some of the major trends throughout the responses were that participants increased their confidence, their metacognitive awareness in listening, and enhanced their language skills.

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